Latest: Mother of Delaware prisoner: Trouble was brewing

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Posted: Feb 02, 2017 4:03 PM
Latest: Mother of Delaware prisoner: Trouble was brewing

SMYRNA, Del. (AP) — The Latest on hostage situation at Delaware prison (all times local):

4 p.m.

A woman whose son is incarcerated at the Delaware prison where three guards and counselor were taken hostage says he recently told her that trouble was brewing.

The woman spoke on condition of anonymity to protect her son. She says he lived in the building at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center where the hostages were taken Wednesday. One of the guards was found dead when authorities used a backhoe and broke in Thursday morning.

The woman says that in several recent telephone calls, her son told her that inmates were saying they were getting fed up with conditions at the prison. She says her son told her "they were riled up and acted as though they were going to protest."

She says her son was "frightened to death" that there would be trouble.

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3:20 p.m.

A former death row inmate at the Delaware prison where inmates took employees hostage says the prisoners were protesting what he called "inhumane" conditions at the facility.

Isaiah McCoy says several inmates who were in the building at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center where the hostage situation took place called him while a standoff was underway. McCoy says the inmates told him they are tired of the "oppression" and "misconduct" at the facility.

McCoy would not say whether the inmates he spoke to were the hostage-takers or were just in Building C at the time. He would not provide the names of any of the inmates.

He says the inmates' nonviolent means of raising their concerns haven't been effective.

McCoy was released from prison in January after being acquitted of all charges in a retrial for a drug-related killing. McCoy said he served about 5 1/2 years at the Vaughn Correctional Center.

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2:45 p.m.

The head of the corrections officers' union in Delaware says he believes that inmates had practiced taking over a prison before they took three guards and a counselor hostage.

Geoffrey Klopp, president of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware, said Thursday that the prison agency has had staffing, salary and retention troubles for about the past decade.

Authorities say inmates used sharpened objects to take the hostages. Two were released, the counselor was rescued and Sgt. Steven Floyd died.

Klopp says Floyd was forced into a closet and yelled to other officers who were coming to help that the inmates had set a trap. Klopp says Floyd's warning saved his fellow officers' lives.

Klopp says he thinks Floyd was killed by the inmates. Authorities have not said how Floyd died.

He says Floyd is the first corrections officer in Delaware to be killed. Klopp said he was a dedicated officer with a wife, children and grandchildren and that he worked overtime to help put his children through college.

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11:10 a.m.

Authorities say inmates used "sharp instruments" to take over a Delaware prison and hold three prison guards and a counselor hostage.

One of the guards died during the nearly 24-hour ordeal. Two guards were released during negotiations and the counselor was rescued after authorities used a backhoe to breach a building at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.

Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security Robert Coupe said Thursday the inmates used "sharp instruments" to take over the prison, but he couldn't describe the weapons in any more detail. He says inmates also filled foot lockers with water and stacked them at entryways to make it harder for authorities to get in.

The correctional officer who died was Sgt. Steven Floyd, who had been with the agency for 16 years. Authorities wouldn't say how the officer died.

Delaware Gov. John Carney called the situation "torturous" and promised a full investigation.

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This item has been corrected to say that inmates used "sharp instruments" to take over prison, instead of sharp objects.

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9:40 a.m.

Some Delaware prison rights advocates say they're saddened but not surprised that a hostage situation at the state's largest correctional facility led to the death of a corrections employee.

Dover attorney Stephen Hampton says he believes that inmates' anger about conditions at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center played a part in the drama that ended Thursday morning. Three other staffers who were taken hostage survived.

Hampton says he hopes the tragedy will convince state officials to act on inmate complaints alleging substandard medical care and sloppy record-keeping that Hampton says has caused some inmates to be held longer than they should have been.

Activist Kenneth Abraham of Citizens for Criminal Justice says hostage-taking is not the answer but he's not surprised it happened.

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8:45 a.m.

After the death of a correctional officer during a hostage situation in a prison, Delaware Gov. John Carney says the priority is to determine what happened and how.

In a statement released Thursday morning, Carney says officials will "hold accountable anyone who was responsible" after the hostage situation at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.

Carney says they'll "make whatever changes are necessary to ensure nothing like it ever happens again."

Inmates took four correction workers hostage Wednesday morning, prompting a lockdown of all Delaware prisons. The inmates released one staffer in the afternoon and another Wednesday night. After police breached the building early Thursday, officials say one hostage was dead and another is alert and talking.

Gov. Carney says the correctional officer's death is a tragic reminder that law enforcement officers risk their lives every day. He says he's "praying hard" for the officer's family.

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8:15 a.m.

Delaware prison officials say one hostage is dead and a second is alert and talking after authorities went into a building at the state's largest prison where inmates took staff members hostage.

Officials announced in a statement Thursday morning that the building where the disturbance occurred at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center is now secure. The prison is in Smyrna, about 15 miles north of the state capital of Dover.

Officials say after police breached the building, one Department of Correction worker was found unresponsive and later pronounced dead.

The inmates took the hostages Wednesday morning, prompting a lockdown of all Delaware prisons. The inmates released one staffer in the afternoon and another Wednesday night. At least one of those staffers had injuries that weren't considered life-threatening.

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4:55 a.m.

Officials say 14 more inmates have been released from a Delaware prison as authorities respond to a hostage situation there.

A news release from the Delaware Department of Correction says the 14 additional inmates were released around 12:30 a.m. Thursday and are being held elsewhere at the prison.

Authorities were still negotiating the release of two staffers after inmates took four corrections department workers hostage in a building at the prison Wednesday morning. Two employees at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna were later released. More than two dozen inmates were also previously released.

The corrections department says a total of 46 inmates and two corrections officers have now been released and that 82 inmates remain in the building.

Inmates reached out to a newspaper in two phone calls to explain their concerns, including the leadership of the U.S., educational opportunities, rehabilitation and how the state spends money on prisons.

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3:30 a.m.

Authorities were still negotiating the release of two staffers after Delaware prison inmates took four corrections department workers hostage.

Two employees and more than two dozen inmates had been released by the inmates at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna by Wednesday evening. Authorities said they didn't know whether the inmates had been held against their will.

Inmates reached out to a newspaper in two phone calls to explain their concerns, including the leadership of the U.S., educational opportunities, rehabilitation and how the state spends money on prisons.

Prisoners funneled the calls to The News Journal in Wilmington with the help of one inmate's fiancee and another person's mother. The mother told the paper her son was among the hostages.